Most companies sending employees overseas offer some kind of cross-cultural training. But we rarely think of cross- cultural training for school children, even though education can be a make or break issue for many families considering an overseas assignment.
As you can see from the facts below, even expats who send their children to international schools encounter cultural differences that may be significant, and may clash with family customs. Schools – local and even international – are a microcosm of the culture they inhabit. Without understanding the host country’s educational system children can be disadvantaged in the admissions arena, in academic performance and in the ease of transition.
Consider these facts:
1) Did you know that 8th graders in Belgium, Korea and Japan do not use calculators in math classes?
Curriculum differences like these make it hard for children trained on calculators to adapt to local mathematics instruction in these countries.
2) Did you know that German parents give their children a Schultuete, or a cone filled with treats on the day they start first grade?
Children unfamiliar with local customs can feel awkward or embarrassed, affecting the transition to their new school.
3) Did you know that in Brazil children either go to school in the morning OR in the afternoon?
Spouses may find it difficult to work in countries with a school schedule alien to them.
4) Did you know that Saudi Arabia is enforcing a law that requires expat children to attend a school of their own nationality?
Many families choose a curriculum other than their national curriculum, often to preserve curriculum continuity with former or future schooling.
5) Did you know that admissions for 4-to-10 year olds for New York City independent schools requires an entrance examination that is ONLY administered in New York City?
Admissions opportunities may be limited for children if parents are unaware of requirements.
More About Liz: